Britain has through the centuries been renowned for Art Magick, from the days when the powers of the "Hyperboreans" were known to the Greeks: Michael Scott the wonderworker was received at the court of the Emperor Frederick II in Sicily: Roger Bacon, a Franciscan friar, was a renowned alchemist: Alexander Seton, another alchemist, was for his wide travels and international fame called the "Cosmopolite:" the "Wizard Earl of Northumberland" graced Tudor times, as also did John Dee and Edward Kelly, the alchemist and the seer to whom was revealed the Enochian Arcana: all these and many more, down to the founders of the modern magical movements, have worked along their distinctive lines, the magick of the Grimoires, of the Qabalah, Alchemical, Enochian, and other: yet underlying all, we distinguish the mysterious forces of the land, the Pagan heart of the Isle of Albion!
In the eighteenth and the greater part of the nineteenth centuries, the continuation of the occult tradition was for the most part hedged by great secrecy. Virtually inescapable churchgoing and the insistence of the clergy of all denominations upon the orthodoxy of their members, had made it impossible for anyone to admit openly to an interest in practical magick unless he was willing and able to flout all social conventions and commitments, to make himself in fact an outlaw. The notoriety of the eighteenth century "Hellfire Clubs" had only served to confirm public opinion in this. An interest in theoretical magick however was quite a different thing. Hence there grew up in this epoch a number of quiet "antiquarian societies" and "folklore societies" which pursued their studies in peace, laying up beneath their haloes of respectability a considerable store of information on such "curiosities" as alchemical documents, medieval books, local cults and beliefs, and so on. Towards the end of the nineteenth century the climate began to change. Partly as a result of scientific progress, partly as a result of widening knowledge of other cultures and ways of life, the hold of the traditional authorities over the minds and consciences of educated men and women was weakening. A number of the antiquarian societies began to move from a theoretical to a practical interest in their lore.
From the membership of one such society the Aurum Solis was founded in 1897. The particular interests of the society had been in Alchemical, Gnostic, Medieval and Celtic traditions: they had gathered much abstruse knowledge on these matters with details of ritual techniques which they were now prepared to put into practice: moreover, they had their spiritual fulcrum, for they had developed their own distinctive constellation of "the worshipped." So as to bring the various researches of the Order into harmony on a sound philosophic basis, it was decided to adopt the fundamental framework of the Qabalah without however binding the Order either to the tangled rabbinic traditions or to the stereotyped Judaeo-Christian interpretations so often associated with it. This combination of factors resulted in the workings being caught up at once into great effectiveness and vitality.
With the outer name of the Order, Aurum Solis, they recalled not only the patient work of the medieval Alchemists but also the objective which they had sought, the transmutation to pure solar gold and all which it symbolizes. Central to the life of the Aurum Solis is the fact of Adepthood, that change in the ground of spiritual consciousness which signalizes the magician's entry into the mystical domain of the Higher Self: and it is the prime concern of the Order to bring its members to that attainment. From the first step, the first resolve, the adventure into magick is given tautness and definition by this aspiration: nor is its achievement an end to the adventure, but rather a new and more profound beginning. For it must be most plainly stated, the death into which the initiate passes is more a symbolic death, and the new birth into which the Adept arises is a veritable new birth. His now is the Sphere of the Sun, for the new heavens of his world are irradiated by a Sun beyond the sun. To this central purpose, indeed, was the Order founded, as indicated by the avowed intention of the founders, “to re-establish the Wisdom of the Mages and to proclaim anew the Secrets of the Alchemists.”
As befits an occult Order functioning in Britain, the A:.S:. has based much of its work on Celtic contacts: the ancient Fire Festivals, Imbolc, Bealteinne, Lughnasadh and Samhuinn, are ritually celebrated year by year, and a series of magical ceremonies has been conducted in or near centres of early British and Celtic potency: prehistoric sites such as “King Arthur’s Caver” in the Wye Valley, the Paviland Cave in Glamorganshire and such legendary sites as “Waylands Smithy” (actually an ancient tomb) in Berkshire: also places of later Celtic associations such as Tintagel, Glastonbury, Holyhead, Iona and Lindisfarne.
Nevertheless, the Order’s pursuit of its purpose has not been all drama, all ritual splendor, joyously though these things have been adopted as beseems the children of Light. There has been much work over the years in clarifying the essentials of the Qabalah, freeing them from doctrinal bias and stripping away the non-essentials: re-aligning Qabalistic theories, also, and other occult knowledge, with modern trends in psychology and science so as to present continually an up-to-date instrument of magick to the understanding of today. Besides the development of these great guide-lines of knowledge, the Order's experience and understanding of the activities of human and of non-human minds has been enlarged also by conducting practical investigations. Various psychic phenomena have been examined: and conclusions have been reached which have had a considerable effect in determining the